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Review Crime Story a.k.a. Cung on zo (1993): Exactly as the title suggests!

genre: crime, drama, action

Crime Story is a moralistic tale about good versus bad. The Hong Kong police force in general are unequivocally good. And the criminals are the total opposite. Inspector Eddie Chan played by Jackie Chan is the personification and example of the good cop who never goes out of bonds who never is off duty. Whereas certain elements don't care for that at all.

Eddie Chan is asked to protect Wong Yat-Fei who fears an attack on him is imminent. Chan doesn't believe him at first since Wong has a tendency to see ghosts and has been wrong before. Unfortunately this time he was right and a group of thugs kidnap him so that they can trade him for 60 million dollars (Could also be 16 million dollars, it wasn't exactly clear to me when they pronounced it. I had the English Dubbed version). In any case a real high amount of money. Of course Eddie Chan sinks his teeth into this case even further and that leads him to a very unlikely suspect. Crime Story wants to convince you through this case that they are reliable and competent and that they won't leave a stone unturned. Normally I am very sceptical and critical of such propaganda. However in this film it did feel sincere which is something I can appreciate. Still this leaves very little space for realism as the bad guys are portrayed as super evil people who have no heart and conscience whatsoever. We all know that in real life the lines are very blurred. It also doesn't help that this film takes itself far too seriously. Especially Jackie Chan is very serious. If I recall correctly he only smiles once. But to be fair with this role he shows he is a really good actor and has range. 

So what about the action? Because I am sure most of you who aren't familiar with this title are craving to hear about that. There is some action which at times is brutal and explosive but it's not the type you will get excited about. The action is put in function to push the narrative and not to entertain. This is quite the departure for Jackie Chan and something I have mixed feelings about. The film indicates (at the end) this supposed true story is simplified in order to protect the real life characters. But I call BS on that one. Just seems pure laziness to me as they couldn't be bothered to come up with something interesting. If you aren't going to deliver on action then the least you could do is tell a rich and compelling story. Especially if it is supposed to be a true story. So to answer the question. The few action scenes are decent but very underwhelming for what Jackie Chan usually delivers. Don't expect the usual fights, shoot-outs or spectacular stunts because you won't get them. When reading other reviews the term gritty kept popping up. Suggesting that the action might be violent and explicit. Apart from some bloodstains you won't be confronted with gore or any type of dismemberment or bone crushing. In fact Jackie Chan goes out of his way to not beat the criminals to a pulp because he is the ultimate good guy remember? So no heroic bloodshed people.  

Crime Story reminds me of most of Jackie Chan's contemporary films where the focus lies on the narrative and message. Not that I think it's a bad thing however it's not what I watch his films for. I understand that now he is getting old and he can't deliver the action he used to. But in 1993 he was on top of his game. It's not a waste of your time only not a title I can recommend either.

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